Round and About in Old Isleworth

During April as a consequence of nominations by Ward Councillors each of the Borough’s five Area Forum held Community Group Recognition receptions in the Mayor’s Parlour.  At the one for Isleworth & Brentford, among those awarded certificates were Air Quality Brentford, Friends of St. Paul’s Park, Osterley & Wyke Green Residents’ Association and St. John’s Residents’ Association.  The Society’s Isleworth 390 Project, represented by Chair, Susan Casey, also received recognition.

April also saw TIS pleased to host Council Leader, Cllr Steve Curran on a second walkabout of the area.  This was a further opportunity to highlight valued aspects and discuss issues of concern. One of these is the evident deterioration of railings spanning the river front from the London Apprentice to Ferry House boundary wall. This subject has been raised with the Council on numerous occasions not least because of difficulties in unravelling where responsibility lies for maintenance.  A few days after the visit the problem was compounded by a car being driven through a portion of the railings and left hanging in a perilous position with the bonnet in the river. This damage has been remedied by replacement metal posts rather than the former wooden ones, with the original metal caps retained.   Curiously one post has been renewed by an unpainted wooden one.  TIS will continue to press for reparation of the remainder as well as those fronting the Headmaster’s House, Park Road. It is hoped this may be encompassed in a Church Street Environmental Improvements Assessment indicated as scheduled for this year.

To start the ball rolling on renovation of the ornamental gates at Park Road cemetery TIS invited two recognised conservator companies to provide quotations.  It is hoped the work envisaged can be covered by an existing Council allocation of S106 monies.  However it is rather disheartening to report that during the inspections it was found one pillar has been hit at some stage causing substantial misalignment. To remedy this it will need dismantling.  Discovery of this potential setback was swiftly followed by advice that the tomb in the cemetery of Reverend Henry Layton had been the object of criminal damage.

From 1872 Revd Layton presided as Minister of an iron mission church transferred from Walworth to Whitton Road Hounslow to cater for the then increasing population in that vicinity.  Such was the mission’s success under his leadership that increased accommodation was needed within a few years resulting in a committee being formed to progress building of what was to become the present day St. Stephen’s Church, Hounslow.

This Summer All Saints’ Church is serving teas every Sunday from 3 p.m. a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.   It will also take part in the by now traditional Church Street - Summer Street Party on Saturday 10th June by making refreshments available in the Long Room.  If you have been down that way over the last few weeks you will have noticed the Church covered in scaffolding.   Some essential repairs have been carried out on asphalt sections of the main roof and roof link to the Joshua Chapel. The drainage system has also been modified because the original drainage pipe ran on a pillar inside the church and had become blocked. The new system takes water off the roof without the need to flow inside the church - much better all round. All Saints’ Church is extremely grateful to the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund which supplied a grant to pay for the work. More repairs will be needed at some future date but further initiatives will be necessary to generate funds for these.

All Saints’ overlooks the River Thames and it is good to be able to report that the poplars planted on Isleworth Ait in January are growing well.    Meanwhile, several new trees have been planted at Silverhall Park.  Many residents felt last year’s drastic cutting down of the ancient mulberry tree in this park was unnecessary.  Status of the tree was scheduled for review at the end of April with a view to a decision on its final fate.   On target at the beginning of the following month came the slightly encouraging verdict of the inspection, namely “mulberry trees are one of the last trees to open their leaves so it is still too early to tell whether the tree will recover sufficiently to be left as it is in the long term. However the trunk still has some growth on it that suggests it is still alive even though it looks to be struggling. The props are still doing the job intended and there is still sufficient holding wood connecting the trunk of the tree to the stump to hold the trunk in its current position safely”. 

During April it came to light that a Council Single Member Decision was in course to approve parking charges in Redlees Park and Isleworth Leisure Centre car parks.  This includes a maximum stay of 4 hours with no return.   While measures to curb non-park user day long parking are welcome, unless a special arrangement can be negotiated for the Bowls Club the scheme could well be detrimental to their activities particularly on match days.  TIS alerted the Club to this proposal and they as well as TIS have made appropriate representations to the Council.  A statutory consultation will be necessary to implement a traffic order to enable the charges.  This will provide an opportunity for further comments to be considered.

Staying with Redlees, the Council has indicated there will be a public meeting in the coming months to discuss proposals for phases of work to be undertaken towards achieving outcomes of the Master Plan.  Currently planning is taking place on the feasibility of various individual projects. These are divided as to Major and Upgrade Projects.  To give a taster - a priority for the former is refurbishment of the children’s playground, including removal of the railings enclosure and introducing new surfacing and edging; another is a complete configuration of the Worton Road side car park.   Among Upgrades is widening perimeter paths to 3 metres all round, a new 5 metre path along the north end of the main parkland space and adding table tennis and chess tables to the multi-sports centre.  TIS has reminded Leisure Services of the need to rectify the damaged gate on the ”secondary” Worton Road entrance and sort out once and for all the issue of ownership and management of this footpath.

It’s good to know substantial funding is available, with applications being made for more, to enable implementation of first stages of aspects of overall works envisaged to transform what is often known as the Pit Park at Northcote Avenue into a Nature Park. To achieve this technical analysis and detailed designs of the “vision” proposals are well underway.  The initial focus is on improving the entrance area, signage and fencing.   To this end a CCTV camera has been installed in the hope it will act as a deterrent to persistent flytipping blighting the entrance. It is also encouraging that soil tests show no pollution on the land.  This firmly counters claims from some quarters that the area was once used as a rubbish dump.

Turning to matters of the street scene, much as work in the Twickenham Road on pavement replacement and re-configuration of the junction with Chestnut Grove is welcome, it does seem to be taking an interminable amount of time.  Suspension of parking bays during the works has left shopkeepers lamenting a substantial loss of business.  In nearby Worple Road an electric car charging point was installed on the lamp column, initially precariously secured by plastic tape; subsequently a more permanent arrangement was put in place.   No signage was put up to alert potential users nor was the parking bay marked to indicate a point was available, with the result access was almost permanently blocked by a parked lorry.   Following highlighting this anomaly, strangely the charging point has been moved to Percy Road.  Like its predecessor location it remains without signage or space allocated for usage.  Given the road is a cul-de-sac it is equally unlikely that potential users will become aware of its existence.

A request to Royal Mail to spruce up the shabby appearance of the pillar box in South Street elicited an encouraging response that all boxes in the TW7 area are due for refurbishment during 2017 – keep an eye out for this.   Hounslow Highways (HH) acceded to a request to replace the damaged litter bin in the same vicinity.   An appeal, so far to no avail, has also been made to them to refurbish the seats in Lower Square where bollards and railings could also do with a touch of paint.   We understand HH are in discussion with the developer converting the Old Blue School offices into apartments with a view to coming to some arrangement to rectify the badly cracked paving in the Square.   The raised area here bears an embedded plaque stating “1977 – to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of H.M.  Elizabeth ll - the Friends of Old Isleworth paved this area”.  

The Friends of Old Isleworth came about in 1960.  It is interesting to reflect that its Chairman’s Report of 1965 states “Nazareth House:  confirmed by the Council that it is still part of its policy to acquire land for the purpose of a public footpath”.  An unadopted path has existed along the Herons Place stretch for several decades since then, but completion of the addition to this to exit by the Osterley Sea Scout premises is only now coming to fruition.  By 1982 the Friends, covering a small area, had evolved into The Isleworth Civic Trust, changing to The Isleworth Society in 1992.  Throughout the years the original objectives have essentially stayed the same, while the area of interest that is covered has increased.  These aims remain today, namely promoting high standards of architecture and securing the preservation, protection and improvement of features of historic or public interest, as well as spreading the word about the area’s geography, history, and natural history.

On a more general theme, initial leaflet advice of recycling and rubbish collection changes gave an impression 5th June was to be the start date.  In reality deliveries of the new containers to facilitate this commence on that date until 30th June.  The laudable aim is to encourage more recycling to achieve Hounslow’s target of 50% (present level 31%).  It seems arrangements for flats will remain as before for the time being.  Houses will receive new boxes, red to contain plastics/cans, blue for paper/card, with the existing green one retained for glass bottles/jars.  These, together with food waste, will be collected weekly, with residual rubbish removed every two weeks from 10th July.  It is believed fortnightly collections will continue for garden waste; a proposed 20% increase in charge for this has been rescinded.  No information is as yet available as to how to dispose of existing white plastic and blue paper bags.

Concern that fortnightly collection of residual waste could result in more flytipping has been among hot topics raised at Hounslow’s Resident Associations’ Forum at which TIS is represented.   In a league table compiled of recorded flytipping incidences in the period November 2015 to December 2016 for London Boroughs, Hounslow notched up 22,255 cases, 56 each day, rating  as second worst behind Haringey, at 39,036, averaging nearly 100 each day.

TIS also affiliates to the Civic Voice which has the ability to sustain national lobbying and campaigns on issues that cannot be changed locally.   Apart from the provision of useful background information particularly relating to planning issues, among other advantages is that it provides the ability for TIS to obtain cost effective Public Liability Insurance essential to cover our activities.   TIS members can also take advantage of the complimentary day passes available from the National Trust.  To obtain a pass write in to the Civic Voice office, Unit 101, 82 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4LN enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope.

Hounslow’s lending library facility has moved from the Treaty Centre to the Civic Centre, Lampton Road.  This is pending a final move to the smaller Civic Centre premises currently being built in Bath Road.  However the Archive & Local Studies service closed on 12th May prior to permanent re-location at Feltham Library, hoped to be completed during June.   Unfortunately it is only possible to move some of the Archive’s Layton special collection to Feltham, with the remainder going into store.  Not for nothing does this have a sub-title, the Hidden Book Collection consisting as it does of some 8,000 17th, 18th and 19thC volumes on every imaginable topic from the Life of Samuel Johnson, Picturesque Views of the River Thames, Islands of Jamaica to the Great Road in the County of Middlesex.  This collection was amassed by Thomas Layton, an antiquarian.  He lived in Brentford all his life (1819-1911).  His long term aim was items should be available for local people to enjoy, thus gaining from a wider spread of knowledge. Difficulties with his will thwarted Layton’s aim of creating a museum, but thanks to Lottery Funding the Thomas Layton Trust has furthered his vision by creating a virtual museum of the books on its website – Laytoncollection.org.

Somewhat closer to home, The Friends of Isleworth Public Hall continue in their efforts to ensure the South Street venue retains its capacity to be a vibrant centre long term.  As is well known Activebase, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation consisting of volunteers, was specifically set up some time ago with a view to taking over management of the building from the Council’s current provider Fusion Lifestyle.  At their AGM in May the Friends were able to report some progress in that the Council has, after a long struggle, agreed to grant Activebase a 25 year lease but this is still subject to discussion of the terms, not least as to details of responsibility for repairs and maintenance.  And so for now Fusion continue management, with the Friends keeping up pressure to secure reparations essential to good day to day running, on things ranging from faulty hand dryers, damaged light fittings, broken window sashes, lack of cleaning products and hand towels in the kitchen, to replacement of missing flashing on the front roof.